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Monday, October 31, 2011

stuff Stuff STUFF!!!

The five letter word that we label 'shopping therapy' when we buy it, makes us run our credit cards to the limit, and gives us headaches when we try to sort through it. 

STUFF!

Boxes of toys our kids don't play with anymore.  Clothes that don't fit (But maybe someday!).  Things given to us that are more sentimental than practical.  Bags of who knows what in the attic that's been there for ages.  I'm guilty of all of the above.

So much stuff and so little time to use it all and not enough space to keep it all.  But, we do anyway because for many of us, it's hard to let go of things.  Letting go is so permanent.  And, the longer we hold onto it, the harder it is to let go and make that permanent decision.

I had a tank top that I finally threw away last year that I had since I was THIRTEEN!  Was it even something nice to wear?  No.  I kept it because I've always kept it.  It never made the cut when I went through my clothes.  And, after awhile I just couldn't throw it away because it represented a time in my life.  Then, one day, I made the decision.  I came to my senses and talked myself into putting it into the dumpster.  And, believe me, it was not easy.  I still remember when I saw the trash truck come that week and I watched him put our trash in the truck.  It was hard to let go.  But, strangely, it was a relief, too.  It's been one less thing now to organize and I have a bit more space in my closet.

If we don't let go of things, if we don't sort and decide what we really need and want, the things that were once meant to enhance our life will only crowd and suffocate us.  They aren't a blessing anymore, they are a burden.  We look around our house and say, "We need a bigger house!", when actually what we need is a few trash bags, some empty boxes, and a new perspective.

I had a yard sale about a month ago and I finally had the strength to put out an old comforter that I used in college some 15 years ago.  It was still in nice shape and I still liked the pattern.  But, I haven't used it in 10 years.  It's been taking up space in my attic and when we move out of our current home, it will be one more thing I'll be lugging to our new place -- and I probably won't use it there either.  I've kept it because I like it, not because I've been using it or have needed it.

But, it turns it out, someone else did need it.  Really needed.

At the end of my yard sale, I made a decision to give everything that was not sold away for free.  There was no way I was going to bring all this stuff I worked so hard on to sort through, back into my house to clutter it again.  About 10 minutes after deciding, a car pulled up and saw the comforter.  She asked how much it was and I told her for free.  She couldn't believe it. 

She said, "Oh, how wonderful!  I know someone with 3 children who asked me if I had any extra blankets!"

She went on to tell me that these children don't actally have a bed to sleep on either right now.  They were in great need and trying to find help.  And, because I was willing to let go of my clutter, there are children who are now sleeping a little warmer tonight.

I'm so glad I let go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Traps & Crabs

Two things we should never play with Traps and Crabs.

But, we do.  We play with things and dance around the idea of things that ultimately are not meant to be played with and can only bite, snap and trap us in the end.

We play with adultery.  We think that the married man or woman we are with, though obviously OK with the idea of cheating and unfaithfulness to their spouse, will certainly be faithful to us.  We swim in the river of De-nile. 

We play with gossip.  Who's to say that the neighbor you are whispering with will not be whispering about you as soon as you turn and walk away?  We are lying to ourselves if we think they aren't.

We play with pornography, shoplifting, illegal business...

In the thrill of its taboo, we lose sight of how able they are able to ensnare us and hurt us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rock Scissor Paper

ROCK - SCISSOR - PAPER - SHOOT!

A great classic childhood game.  Usually played between two people.  Your choices: 1) Either make a fist to be a 'rock' 2) Put out your middle and index finger to make a 'scissor' 3) Lay your hand out flat to make 'paper'.  Rules:  If one player puts out a 'rock' and the other puts out 'paper',  'paper' wins because it covers rock.  But, if the 'paper' is met with 'scissors', 'scissors' wins because 'scissors' cuts 'paper'.  But, alas, if the 'scissors' is combated with a 'rock', 'rock' wins because 'rock' crushes 'scissors'.  The game can go on for hours and it's always the luck of the draw, so to speak.

A great game for kids, but a game that can be seen among us older 'kids', too.  Some of us want to dominate.  Dominate our jobs, dominate relationships, dominate in well -- everything.  So we poise ourselves as the dominating object.  If we encounter a 'rock' person, we are like 'paper' over them.  If a 'paper' personality confronts us, we whip out our 'scissor'.  And, if we are met by 'scissor', we want to crush them with our 'rock'. 

For those that have played the 'game' long enough, they don't even have to think about it.  It's like a sixth sense.  They feel out the situation or the person almost subconsciously and poise themselves to be sure they are the dominating object.  It helps them feel secure.  It keeps them guarded and always with the upper hand. 

But, it's a dangerous game to play

because every child knows -- no matter how many times you win, at some point -- you will lose.  And, how crushing it will be when you do. 

May we put down our childish games and humble ourselves.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tick Tock...

We know it will happen.

Just as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, so with the Son will come back for us.  It's a promise.  He said it Himself.  Nope, I can't wrap my head around it.  I don't think I'm supposed to.  And, to be honest with you, if I didn't know what I know about Him already, I think I'd have a hard time believing it.  But, since I know that He does not lie to us, and everything He says comes true, I can only trust Him on it. 

Knowing this guaranteed future event gives perspective on my daily life.  Though we've been waiting 2000 years for Him to come back, it is very possible that He will return in my lifetime.  Your lifetime.   It's possible that He will come even by the end of this decade, this year, this week, this day, this very hour, or even before I finish typing. 

The thing is, we don't know.  And, we're not supposed to.  He's told us all we need to know right now and is asking us not to fix our eyes of the guessing games of time and day, but fix our eyes on the One who is coming.  Fix our eyes on the One who alone is stable and can hold us and carry us through the times ahead. 

The point is:  Do you know the One who is coming??


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Don't Kiss Me, I Just Ate Onions

For many of us, we aren't comfortable interacting with people when we don't feel good about ourselves.

We might avoid going out until our hair and make-up are in place.  We don't want anyone to see us when we are 'not put together'.  We might keep to ourselves or even shut off if our minds or emotions are in a funk.  We don't want people to see through us.  We only want them to see our 'smiley days' when we have our act together.  We might avoid physical contact with people if we don't feel comfortable with our own physical body.  It has nothing to do with the other people.  It has everything to do with ourselves.

Our spiritual confidence is no different.  When we feel good about ourselves with God we have no problem interacting with Him.  But, if we carry guilt or shame, we will probably avoid looking up.  We keep our distance.  We keep Him at arms length.  We aren't comfortable approaching Him.  We aren't comfortable letting Him touch us. It has nothing to do with Him.  It has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves. 

Some try to make themselves feel better with God.  They might say in their hearts, "I'll get myself cleaned up.  I'll love more.  I'll promote peace.  I'll feed the poor.  I'll give my money.  I'll say repetitious prayers in hopes that it will be enough to appease my conscience.  And when I feel good about myself, then I will feel better about getting closer to you."

But, here is where the dilemma is:

We can not clean up ourselves. 

Nope, not one bit.  And, even if we try, it is like putting perfume on a rotting dead body.  Our sin is a stench in His nostrils. 

But, here's the good news.  No, we can't clean ourselves, but we do have access to a Royal Bath.  God stands there with His Soap and Wash Cloth and says, "Come on, son.  Come on, daughter.  Let's get you washed up and get some clean clothes on you.  And, then, no matter how you feel about yourself, you can know that you are completely presentable to Me and can draw near - - with confidence."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spicing Life


There was a woman who wanted to make a pie.  A delicious apple pie. 

After making her crust and cutting her apples, she glanced down at her recipe. 

It called for a bit of cinnamon. 

"OOO.....Cinnamon always makes apples sooooo good."  she said to herself as she licked her lips.

She added what the recipe called for... and then some.  Pausing for a moment and looking down at her pie filling, she added a bit more 'for good luck'. 

"Certainly, this will be the most delicious pie I have ever made because cinnamon makes apples taste so good!"

And, with that thought, she sprinkled them again with even more cinnamon.

As the pie was baking, the aroma of cinnamon began to fill her home.

"Oh, how amazing this pie is going to be!"  she said to herself.  "Good thing I added so much cinnamon."

When the pie was finished baking and done cooling, she sliced a large piece for herself and took a huge bite.

It was then that she realized...pie should taste good with cinnamon... 

but, not when used in excess!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (please excuse our appearance)

They know it will make a mess. 

Businesses, households and road crews are completely aware of the process when renovating their buildings, homes, or roads. 

But, they do it anyway.   

They send in their demolition crews.  They rip down, pull apart and don't hold themselves back.  They aren't concerned about the mess they are making during the demolition process because their eyes are focused on the finished product.  If anything, they understand that the mess is actually a sign to all that things are going to start looking really really good in the near future.

Renovating the heart can be a similar process.  And, boy can things get messy as the Carpenter begins His work -- pulling out and ripping down the things that are like cancer to us; bringing up old heart injuries that make us limp all day long; shaking the foundation of things in our life that hinder our Freedom. 

He knows this ain't no mess-free job.

But, He proceeds and asks us to stick it out with Him because his eyes are focused on the finished product.  He knows the mess is actually a sign that things are going to start looking really really good in the near future.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So Long For Now

My Grammy.  I wish I could introduce her.  She was one of kind, for sure.  Spirited.  Ornery at times.  Bold, yet tenderhearted.  My mind is still filled with child-hood memories...


Her Food
She used to make warm fresh baked bread.  No bread machine -- the old fashion way.  I remember her Polish cooking and big strong hands that I would watch her kneed the bread and stir her pots with.  I can still hear her ask her daily survey of who wanted an egg for breakfast.  No one went hungry at Grammy's house.

Her Face
I remember her denture-filled smile and subtle humor and sarcasm that made her so intriguing to me as a child.  I could see that rascal behind those brown eyes of hers. 

Her Care
I remember Vicks being put on my chest in the middle of the night when I was sick, and second and third 'tuck ins' while I slept to make sure I didn't catch a draft and get cold.  She loved me as her own.  She loved us all as her own.  Even into my college years, I received letters from her -- still caring for me even then.

Her Fun
I remember bus rides on Thursdays to the town square.  She'd buy us Wendy's cheeseburgers and Cabbage Patch clothes from the vendors.  I remember the bountiful candy on her refrigerator door that we would invade at every visit.  She had enough sweets to fill Candy Land, but insisted she was 'not a big sweet eater'.  Whatever Grammy! 

Her Love Song
I remember her saying I love you and singing..."I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and peck, though you make my life a wreck.  Ya betcha little life I do..."  She wouldn't say she had a great singing voice, but that never stopped her from expressing her love.

Her Departure
She was 94 when she moved away.  She did it Grammy-style.  No fuss.  No scene.  Don't-you-worry-about-me-I'm-fine kind of exit.  She's in a new Home now where I'm sure she can cook up all her favorite dishes everyday and feed it to her neighbors.  A place where she can sit and knit to her heart's content.  A home she will never have to clean.  A Depression Era she'll never have to live through.  A better Place.  A place she can finally talk to Grandpa again and give her own mom and dad and daughter a big hug.  A place the rest of us here need to wait a bit longer to get to.



There was something my Grammy would always say. 

She'd say, "Don't say good-bye.  It sounds too permanent.  Say: So Long -- because I'll see you again!"
Indeed Grammy. 

And, so...this surely is not good-bye.


But, only 
 so long for now. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Forget the Baby!


A husband and wife decide to take a road trip with their baby.  And with every baby comes much luggage. (Gone are the days of just one carry-on bag.) They begin to pack up the car with diapers, bottles, a stroller, a playpen, bags of miscellaneous baby products and wipes.  When they are finished and begin to drive away, they smile proudly at each other.  They packed everything that was needed -- even the directions to where they were going and their to-go coffee mugs.  About a half mile down the road, the mother turns around in her seat and her face turns white.  She looks at her husband and doesn't even need to say it...  They brought everything -- but the BABY!!


***

Keep what's most important, most important.
Don't forget the baby.